US officials announced on Tuesday that they believe North Korea will be able to field a reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next year, in an assessment which significantly increases concern about the rogue regime in Pyongyang. The new assessment by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reduces by two years the previous forecast of North Korea’s capability. The timeline was reduced as a result of Kim Jong-un’s recent flurry of missile tests, which showed surprising technical advances by the country’s weapons scientists. It came as North Korea fired its 14th missile this year.

Scott Bray, national intelligence manager for East Asia at the Office for the Directorate of National Intelligence (ODNI), said in a statement that the recent test of an intercontinental range ballistic missile “was not a surprise to the intelligence community” but he described it as a “milestone”. “This test, and its impact on our assessments, highlight the threat that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose to the United States, to our allies in the region, and to the whole world,” he said.  READ MORE